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Learning Serbian




So, while my parents speak it at home intermixed with English and while I can understand it to some degree - I really don't speak it anywhere near a fluent level or even an intermediate level. Since I've been meaning to do this for some time I decided in order to help me prepare for learning Serbian, I'd have a go at Esperanto. It is often claimed that one can get fluent within 150hrs of study, and it has been shown to increase understanding of subsequent languages you learn.


I studied it for a couple weeks, and within that time I was able to hold a basic conversation. I can read something on the Esperanto Wikipedia and be able to give you a fair idea of what has been said. This is mostly due to how regular Esperanto is. Anyways, I think once I've gotten Serbian down, I'd love to go back to Esperanto and get fluent with it especially since it requires so little effort.


Anyways, I've been looking at this book I'm using to teach myself Serbian and it's really doing my head in. Serbian as a language is far more complex than any language I've looked into (including Esperanto, Japanese and German). It has 7 cases, and other grammatical rules that really give you an uphill battle in terms of being able to say anything correctly. For example, let's say you want to order a coffee:

ja bih jednu kafu


now, let's say the waiter brings you your order, he'll say

jedna kafa, izvolete


ok, you think that's not too hard to remember, right? well, it changes again depending on how many drinks you get:

dve kafe, izvolete


I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually, but DAYUM man.



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Well, guess I am not going to pursue Serbian after all. I'll just stick to writing literary fictional stories about their history instead. Rich stuff to be found there! Man, three different conjugations of the word coffee? Am I reading that right? kafu, kafa, and kafe?

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Yeah, I love Serbian history and the folk stories from that period. I recommend reading them if you haven't, especially Bas Celik! :)


Well, there are 7 cases, so depending on the word you may have 7 different conjugations. Also, nouns and adjectives have to agree. So if you have a male noun, the adjective must be made male, and so on. Then there's the fact the verb form is dependent on who is performing the action.


Overall, it's a massive uphill battle until you're an intermediate, then it's smoother sailing. Since I have had exposure to the language, I am familiar with some parts of the grammar, and of course the vocabulary, but it's still a lot to take in. Wouldn't recommend someone with no exposure to other languages trying to take it on that's for sure.

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I wonder if the complications of it have to do with the turbulent country histories? There was a lot of folks beating Serbia up. It's amazing any of the Middle Ages churches and that are even still around. But yes, the stories are delicious. The monarch histories are soap opera like. And they did come up with the first known Constitution for citizens rights within a country.

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@zomberina, You mean with the language? Well most Slavic languages have many cases, and it's found in other languages like Latin and Ancient Greek. If anything many influences simplify a language's grammar, like in English - while at the same time introducing a lot of irregularities (once again like English). There are a lot of Turkish loan words in Serbian, but for the most part its grammar is very regular; just highly commplicated.


@TRP, добро сам хвала, а ви? ја бих кафу  :) да ли сте ви србин?

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